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Technical dialogue on the 10 year retrospective of the implementation of the Right to Food Guidelines

Events - 03.07.2014

In the context of a communication and advocacy campaign carried out by FAO to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security (Right to Food Guidelines), a Technical dialogue on the 10 year retrospective of the implementation of the Right to Food Guidelines was organized on 3 July 2014 at FAO premises in Rome.

The Technical Dialogue saw the participation of almost 200 people and provided an important opportunity to look back at the progress made over the last ten years and discuss the gaps and challenges still ahead in the implementation of the right to food. The ideas and outcomes put forth represent an important contribution to the 10 Year Retrospective process leading up to the 41st session of the CFS.


The event, moderated by Ms Zeinab Badawi, BBC journalist and presenter, was chaired by Mr Jomo Sundaram, FAO Assistant Director-General (Coordinator for Economic and Social Development) who, in his welcoming remarks, highlighted some important developments in the implementation of the right to food over the past 10 years: the paradigm shift in the fight to end hunger which is today conceived as a duty; food security as a matter of equity; individual and collective justice; an increased focus on the most vulnerable; and finally the improvement in the governance of tenure.

The Dialogue was enriched by the first official appearance of Ms Hilal Elver, appointed in May 2014 as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. In her opening speech, Ms Elver summarized the main priorities of her current mandate, such as: work towards bridging the gap between the justiciability of civil and political, and economic, social and cultural rights; promote specific programs and policies to empower woman as agency of change; prioritize nutrition issues related to the right to food; and focus on emergency and conflict issues affecting food crises and insecurity. [Download the speech]

The event also saw the participation of Ms Smita Narula, Faculty Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at NYU School of Law, who, in her opening remarks, emphasized how the fulfilment of human rights is the best antidote for food insecurity. She underlined the primary role of States in the fulfillment of the right to food, stressing at the same time the role of other important actors which should also contribute to the same goal, including private sector, civil society and international financial institutions. Ms Narula highlighted how the 2007-2008 economic crisis presented a big challenge but offered, at the same time, the possibility to rethink our food systems and poverty reduction strategies at multiple levels.

Ms Badawi gave the floor to many of the participants to the Dialogue who had the opportunity to provide their insights and raise a number of relevant issues. The discussion held helped reflecting on the importance of a number of points, in particular on the essentiality of:

  • a legal basis for the right to food, necessary in order to provide adequate institutional structures and develop sound normative content for the realization of this right in a coherent and coordinated manner;
  • national food security and nutrition policies, contributing to the progressive realization of the right to food and essential to ensure the implementation, complement and integrate any relevant legislative framework in place;
  • nutrition as an integral part of the right to food. The Dialogue touched on the relevance of nutritious diets in order to achieving people’s full physical and cognitive potential and health;
  • the role and coordination of a multitude of actors to ensure the realization of the right to food in the long-run. In this context, the private sector has a critical role to play and a substantial impact on people’s enjoyment of this right to food. Corporations and companies operating in the food business could multiply their positive impact in regards to enabling access to adequate and nutritious food by complying with existing regulations and own up to their responsibilities in terms of labeling and providing accurate information and fair food marketing to consumers. The discussion emphasized how the private sector enjoys in some cases an undeniable advantage in the competition over land, resources or market access, which may marginalize small-scale food producers and vendors and, as a result, undermine their food security and nutrition;
  • use and managements of natural resources and access to land, with particular consideration given to the most vulnerable groups. The discussion helped highlighting major achievements which have taken place in the past decade, such as the establishment of policies and legal frameworks which recognize vulnerable people´s rights to access, use and management of natural resources. However, despite important policy changes at international and national level, participants highlighted the need for more reforms and regulations, which are not keeping up with commercial pressures on natural resources. Therefore, participants concluded that efforts are still required to address the increasing pressures on ecosystems and the threat to sustainable production and access to adequate food that many are facing today.


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